Mick

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 30,000

Q1. How much do you earn from teaching per month?

My agency pays me 30,000 baht a month less a few hundred for tax.

Q2. How much of that can you realistically save per month?

Hahahahaha. That's a good one.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

I live in a 5,000 baht a month studio in the posher part of Klong Toey. It's basically a concrete block with rooms fashioned into it. There are no facilities of note. I would just be happy if the lift worked more often. I'm surrounded by Thais sharing three and four to a room. Hardly any of them seem to work. They sit in the corridors and stare at me with blank expressions as I make my way to work each morning. I know not what they want only I probably can't give it to them.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

Transportation

Just a return fare on the BTS every day so probably about 2,000 baht a month. Once I get to the other end, I can walk to school from there. Well actually it's more of a shuffle than a walk.

Utility bills

I try to avoid using the air-conditioning if I can. It's an old machine and makes strange noises and I'm sure it uses up twice as much leccy as a modern unit. Unfortunately I live on the second floor, so I don't have the benefit of a breeze coming in from the balcony, Just a strange smell from the outside drains if it's a particularly hot day. My water, electricity and phone bill rarely cost more than a thousand.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I try to budget for about 100 baht a day on food so I survive on a diet of street food and ham sandwiches from 7-11. I get a subsidized lunch at school, which is edible if you keep your eyes closed and your expectations low. So I guess 3,000 baht a month on food. I eat quite a lot of fruit from a nearby fresh market as well.

Nightlife and drinking

I go out once a week on a Saturday. A small group of us hit the local happy hours and finish off with beers at an open-air Thai restaurant. I avoid the touristy areas because you can just hemorrhage cash if you're not careful. I spend about 4,000 baht a month on going out and drinking, which I don't think is excessive.

Books, computers

Nothing. I use the internet at school and I download free books off the net.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

It's definitely just survival. I've told my agency that either they offer me 40K when the next school year starts or I'm walking. I don't think 40K jobs in Bangkok are hard to find but time will tell.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Food and transportation.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

I hate the word 'survive'. Honestly, who comes here to just 'survive'? You are not asking to live in the lap of luxury but you should be able to treat yourself now again. On 30K a month, you can't even do that. Once my accommodation, utiliity bills, transportation, entertainment and food are factored in, I'm left with about 500 baht a day.

Phil's analysis and comment

30,000 baht a month in Bangkok? Forget it. Don't even go there if you have a choice. Even five years ago a 30K salary wasn't enough and I'm surprised each and every day at how much certain essentials have gone up in price.

As Mick rightly points out, he's left with 500 baht a day - and it's not as if he even spends a great deal on accommodation etc. That 500 baht a day has to cover laundry, dry-cleaning, toiletries, cleaning stuff, possibly health insurance, dentistry, clothing, weekends away (surely an unobtainable luxury) etc, etc etc.

I regularly chat to a bunch of Thai guys at my gym and the conversation often turns to money. When I ask them if 30,000 baht a month is enough for a single guy living in Bangkok, not one of them will answer without carefully choosing their words. That tells you everything. Even a Thai has to think twice about the prospects of surviving on that sort of dough in Bangers. 


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